Valens. Photo: Courtesy of Artist/Bandcamp
Final albums are never easy unless that’s your plan, then it’s in the cards. Houston’s Valens have decided to say goodbye to their name and take their sound in a new direction, thus cutting ties with their formal selves. With the recently released the EP Untitled, the three-piece ditches the bulk of their emo influence and incorporates that with hints of the post grunge nots of acts like Seaweed and Jawbox to create an almost unheard of subgenre of tracks. Though just four songs and clocking in at a hair or two under fifteen minutes, Valens says goodbye to the past in the most creative way possible.
They open things up with the group vocalized and heavy bass lined sounds of “Poke Poke,” and immediately steer from their first wave emo sounds. A little rougher around the edges styled vocals immediately take you back to bands like Jawbreaker before their final album. The melody in the guitar are not as heavily modified through pedals and offer up a more straight forward sound that’s refreshing and even a little in your face. They close the track with an intensity that some of their earlier releases needed, while the punchy track never sounds rehashed. This gets followed by “Gray Hair” that’s closer to Seaweed in its approach. Not like a mirror image by any means, but the band is definitely keeping their sound raw here and less stylized than their last two releases. The “whoa oh” backing vocals really shine through here where the band adds an element to the song to make it more melodic and catchy than it would be were they not there.
On the third song, “Five Days A Week,” the band really seemed to embody the gurgling basslines and emotive vocals that bands like Jawbox and Arcwelder offered up on their final albums. With an unrefined sound, as if it was recorded with all of the members playing in a live room, the track showcases how solid these guys are as a unit, even when they’re trying to say goodbye. They close the album with the more harmonic and eloquent sounding “Hold Me Up,” where the band truly shines. Keeping the core of the live sound together, the harmonies in the vocals alone are worth noted, while the guitar work on the track proves how far the band has come in their short time together. In fact, the guitar solo on the song is like nothing else you hear in the emo alt genre nowadays, thus placing the band ahead of many out there today.
While it’s always sad to see a band go away, Valens isn’t really retiring much more than a name and a sound that it feels like they’re ready to shed. While the EP is definitely a solid one, part of me wanted more but short goodbyes are almost always best. While there’s no word of any final Valens performances, the EP is available through their Bandcamp, and the rest of their releases pay what you want, minus “Songs About Sleep,” which is only $1.
Valens Drops Final Album Before Changing Everything This was reposted for my personal reading use